Friday, October 21, 2011

Qualities Unique to God - #1 Spirit

What about these Qualities Unique to God? Let’s focus on three primary aspects.

God is spirit, not physical substance. Jesus said in John 4:24, "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."

This means that God is immaterial and invisible. As spirit, he preexisted everything physical, and he created everything physical. As spirit, God is indestructible and immeasurable. As spirit, he is unlimited by time or space.

Even when the Bible refers to the "eyes" or "hands" of God, this is just figurative language to help us comprehend God’s actions. God sees, yes, but he does not have physical eyes like we do. God does things, yes, but he does not have physical hands like we do. God is spirit, not physical substance.

This quality makes God unique.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Qualities that are True About God

What are the basic characteristics of God? What can we say about God’s being? Where do we even begin?

The attributes of God are qualities that are true about God. The attributes are God are organized in different ways. Though this might not resolve all the issues, the paradigm that has been most helpful to me is this. I like to think of:

Qualities unique to God – qualities that describe what God’s unique character is like. God is Triune, self-existent, self-sufficient, transcendent, immutable, infinite, eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, sovereign.

Qualities God shares with people – qualities that describe what God’s common character is like. God is personal, good, loving, patient, merciful, gracious, faithful, holy, righteous, just, truthful, wise.
So, on one hand, God has attributes quite unlike anything else in the universe. God is God, and there is no one like him. God is bigger than big!

Yet, on the other hand, many of God’s characteristics are shared in some degree with us human beings. We are created in his image, which makes it possible for us to understand some aspects of what he is like, except God has all these qualities in perfection!

Plus, God maintains all these qualities perfectly and in balance. Most of us find we can be loving or angry, forgiving or jealous, compassionate or holy – but not both at once. God is under no such limitations.

For example, God’s unlimited power and personal love are never in conflict with each other. His love and his wrath are not in opposition to each other. Specifically, in his compassion, God loves the sinner. In his holiness, God hates the sin. And in his justice, he must punish the sin.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

How do you define God?

A little boy was found by his mother with pencil and paper, making a sketch. When asked what he was doing, he answered promptly, and with considerable pride: "I am drawing a picture of God."

"But, grasped the shocked mother, "you cannot do that. No one has seen God. No one knows how God looks."

"Well," the little boy replied confidently, "when I get through, they will."

The topic of God seems so simple, and yet it may be one of the hardest to talk about. Volumes could be said. Theological explanations can get us bogged down. We can talk about concepts that don’t connect with our real lives. If someone asked you to describe God, where would you begin?

The kind of struggle we face in describing God was illustrated among the Presbyterians when they were debating how to define God in their Westminster Confession of Faith. The debate was intense and so frustrating, they could not agree. Finally someone suggested that they pray, and a man prayed beginning with his address to God:

"There is but one only, living, and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him; and withal, most just, and terrible in His judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty."

He we on to make his request for God’s help. After his prayer, he sat down, and they said, "What did he just say? Let’s write that down! That’s our confession of faith about God!" They later added supporting Scripture. They had their definition of God and is included in their Westminister Confession of Faith (1646).

A shorter definition is found in the Nicene Creed written centuries before, "We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible." ~ Nicene Creed (325 A.D.)

Where would you begin to define God?